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American Samoa Olympian goes shirtless at freezing Beijing opening

BEIJING (AFP) – American Samoa flag-bearer Nathan Crumpton added to a fledgling Olympic tradition by appearing shirtless and with his torso gleaming at the Beijing Winter Games opening ceremony on Friday despite sub-zero temperatures.

The 36-year-old skeleton racer took his turn in the athletes’ parade as the sole competitor from the United States (US) territory, wearing only the skirt-like traditional lavalava and sandals.

Crumpton follows in the footsteps of oiled-up Tongan Olympian Pita Taufatofua, who started the chilly trend.

Despite the mercury falling well below freezing at the ‘Bird’s Nest’ stadium in Beijing, Crumpton appeared unfazed. He was flanked by cheering volunteers decked in thick puffer jackets and gloves.

Taufatofua’s first bare-chested appearance at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio won him global Internet fans with Tongan media calling him “the most attractive man today in a town that’s known for its appreciation of the beautiful body”.

Taufatofua, who had done taekwondo in Rio, repeated his feat at the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, after he qualified as a cross-country skier.

His toned torso was challenged at the Tokyo Games opening ceremony last year by a rival topless parader from Vanuatu, Riilio Rii.

Taufatofua is sitting out the Winter Games in Beijing but he gave Crumpton his support from afar on Friday, tweeting a photo of the athlete at the Beijing ceremony with the caption: “American Samoa holding the fort.”

American Samoa flag bearer Nathan Crumpton at the opening ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games. PHOTO: AFP